The Buffalo Sabres have won once on the road in nearly seven weeks while sputtering offensively. Their only meeting of the season with the injury-riddled Edmonton Oilers may present them with an ideal chance to begin reversing those trends.
The Sabres attempt to rebound from their seventh loss in eight games as the visitor when they face the Oilers on Tuesday night.
Buffalo (14-18-4) is 6-8-3 on the road, with the lone victory since Nov. 10 coming in a 1-0 shootout win at Ottawa on Dec. 4. The team has been outscored 27-12 in that stretch, failing to score more than two goals in each contest.
The Sabres’ road losing streak reached four Monday with a 5-2 defeat at Calgary, opening a stretch where five of six are away games.
“We need to win,” right wing Drew Stafford(notes) said. “It’s come down to this where we need the points and it starts with (Tuesday) night. We just have to forget about this one and get ready for a big one in Edmonton.”
Buffalo may be in ideal position to begin showing improvement on the road by facing the Oilers (12-16-6), who are enduring a 1-4-1 stretch and are near the bottom of the NHL with a 6-8-2 home record.
The Sabres have won four in a row over the Oilers, including a 10-2 victory in the most recent meeting at Rexall Place on Jan. 27, 2009. They took the only matchup last season 3-1 on Nov. 11, 2009.
Stafford had four goals in the last two meetings, including a hat trick in the latest visit to Edmonton.
The right wing scored a goal Monday, ending a five-game point drought on the road. Of his 10 goals on the season, three have come in 10 away games.
Continued production from Stafford could soften the blow of a season-ending injury to Derek Roy(notes), Buffalo’s leader with 35 points who suffered a torn left quad tendon in a 4-3 home loss to Florida on Thursday.
“We need guys to step up, to fill in for their spots, especially Derek in the long term,” Stafford said.
He’s 1-6-2 with a 3.44 goals-against average in his last nine road games, but has won all four meetings with Edmonton behind a 1.25 GAA and .958 save percentage.
While injuries have mounted for the Oilers, they’re expected to have Ales Hemsky(notes) back after a groin injury sidelined him for 10 games. The right wing has seven goals and 11 assists in 21 games this season, and two and three, respectively, in five games against Buffalo.
“The last one week, I skated and I pushed it hard so I should be ready,” Hemsky told the team’s official website.